Saturday night after the UFC wraps up, switch over to Showtime for a good boxing match-up as Mikey Garcia (38-0; 30 KOs) takes on Robert Easter, Jr. (21-0; 14 KOs). The winner will unify the WBC and IBF Lightweight (135 lbs.) titles. Ring Magazine has Easter ranked the #3 contender in the division, with Garcia just above him at #2 – Garcia also sits on the pound for pound list at #5. The fight takes place this Saturday, July 28 in Los Angeles with a fight time of 10:00 p.m. ET and will be airing live aont Showtime. Also on the televised card is big hitting Heavyweight Luis Ortiz vs. Razvan Cojanu plus Mario Barrios vs. Jose Roman.
How do these two stack up?
Garcia: 30 years old | 5’6” | 68” reach | orthodox stance
Easter: 27 years old | 5’11” | 76” reach | orthodox stance
What have these two done recently?
Garcia: W – Sergey Lipinets (UD) | W – Adrien Broner (UD) | W – Dejan Zlaticanin (KO)
Easter: W – Javier Fortuna (SD) | W – Denis Shafikov (UD) | W – Luis Cruz (UD)
How did these two get here?
In 2013, Mikey Garcia was busy establishing himself as an undefeated, two division world champion and one of the true elite in boxing. Then, he stepped away from the sport, missing two and a half years and calling his entire career into question. He came back in 2016 and picked up right where he left off, winning 4 in a row and claiming a world title in his third weight class. The big question for Garcia is what the future holds. If he wins here, does he seek to unify belts at Lightweight, or move up to the more star-heavy divisions above him? And, perhaps most interestingly to MMA fans, does he end up signing with Dana White and Zuffa Boxing? This is a big time in Garcia’s career.
Robert Easter Jr. is 6 years into his pro career, and, interestingly, he’s pretty close to where Garcia was 6 years into his own career. Easter is building his resume, claiming a vacant world title two years ago and fighting an increasingly tough level of opponent. If anything, he’s beyond where Garcia was at this stage. That said, while Easter has shown himself to be a very good boxer with a tricky style that causes opponents headaches at times, he has not quite shown the potential for serious greatness we saw in Garcia. Easter is not super young at 27, but he’s young in the fight game and could be building an impressive career. A win here would be an absolutely massive feather in his cap. Of note: Easter is currently trained by Mike Stafford, who also trains recent Garcia opponent Adrien Broner.
What can fans expect?
Easter has consistently found ways to win, but it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. In particular, his fight with Fortuna was not a good performance, and would have been a draw if not for a point deduction for Fortuna. That fight was a bad predictor for this one if you are in the Easter camp, as he was outmaneuvered and beaten to the punch by a faster, smaller man. Here he faces… a faster, smaller man with superb technical skills. Garcia has shown no signs of slowing down, and though he’s giving up a lot of height and reach, he should be able to get inside and connect while using his defense to avoid a heavy Easter counter. I expect Garcia to fight smart to the end and wear Easter down enough to earn the late stoppage, but won’t be surprised if it goes to the judges either.
Prediction: Mikey Garcia, TKO 10
Who should watch?
This is a good one to check out post-UFC simply to see Garcia in action. He’s top 5 in the world right now for a good reason. If you are yet to get on board the Garcia train, now’s the time.